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Sony WH-1000XM2 wireless headphone review: Audio at its best
Sony WH-1000XM2 headphones deliver best-in-class noise cancellation and impressive audio output. The wireless headphones are priced at Rs. 29,990 in India
After almost a year, Sony has upgraded the company's most popular wireless headphone line-up with the launch of WH-1000XM2. Priced at Rs. 29,990, the successor to original MDR-1000X are company's latest noise-cancelling headphones and are easily the most technologically advanced wireless headphones in its price segment.
- Excellent audio performance
- Premium design
- Best-in-class noise cancellation
- Long-lasting battery
- Unique features for frequent travelers
- Slightly uncomfortable during prolonged use
- Noise cancellation Auto switch off mode is irritating
- Non-removable battery
- Soft controls can be tricky
Sony's new premium headphones rival the ever popular Bose QC series wireless headphones and even take a lead in some ways.
Sony WH-1000XM2 features an effective noise cancelling, Adaptive Sound Control, Quick Attention Mode, smart touch controls and are World's first headphones with built-in atmospheric pressure optimizer.
They are smarter and better than the previous model in almost every aspect. Let's explore all the features and understand the audio performance with the help of following review. But first, let's have a look at the specifications of WH-1000XM2.
Sony WH-1000XM2 Specifications
The wireless headphones work on a 40 mm dome type driver unit. The supported audio format list includes SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD and LDAC. The aptX HD adds hi-res audio support up to 24bit/48kHz and Sony's in-house LDAC format adds support for 24bit/96kHz audio.
The WH-1000XM2 works on Bluetooth 4.1 and supports A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP profiles. You get a built-in microphone, NFC for quick pairing and S-Master HX digital amplifier
There are several noticeable hardware and software driven features to enhance the sound delivery. These include- Automatic AI Noise cancellation, Atmospheric pressure optimizing, Ambient sound mode, Quick attention and Personal NC optimizer.
The wireless headphones come with a promise of 30 hours music playback on a stretch with Noise cancellation switched on. The battery time can extend to another 8 hours without noise cancellation mode activated.
Leather and polished metal
The earcups have been given a leathery plastic finish on the outside and the headband is made up of high quality polished metal that extends to a good length to match your head type. The inner sides of the earcups are made of good quality synthetic leather for comfortable listening experience.
They are very squishy and efficiently cover your ears to prevent any possible sound leaking. The headphones are not bulky but have a noticeable weight of 275 grams, which you start realizing during prolonged listening sessions.
Foldable design to ease up traveling
Travelling with Sony's new wireless headphones will not be much of an issue as the earcups hinges are foldable and they can also swivel flat to be easily kept in the bundled case. Overall, Sony has improved the already established design standards with WH-1000XM2 making it one of the most premium looking wireless headphones you can buy today.
Smart controls to access all the functions
There are only two hardware buttons on the Sony WH-1000XM2, one for powering on/off and pairing the headphone with smart device and the other to switch on/off noise cancelling and ambient sound mode. Other than this, Sony WH-1000XM2 can be operated via soft buttons fitted on the smart control pad of the earcups. The gesture controls are fairly easy to use once you spend some time with the new headphones.
The right earcup has all the basic controls such as volume up/down, track change, etc. A double tap at the centre of the right earcup plays or pauses a track. Double tapping at the same spot allows you to receive an incoming call and to disconnect an ongoing call. You can swipe up and down to tweak the volume levels and sideward swipes will help you change the tracks.
Immensely useful Quick Attention Mode
The right earcup also serves a very important purpose, which is borrowed from the predecessor and is one of the most interesting and useful feature. The headphone come equipped with Quick Attention mode that basically mutes the audio and stops the noise canceling process to let you hear the outside sound. It can be activated instantly by just placing your palm to the right earcup so that you can talk to others without taking headphones off.
Sony has added an entire technology lab in the new wireless headphones that I got to test during my 10-hour long flight duration. I was quite keen to test the new ‘Atmospheric pressure' sensing technology that promises to improve the already effective noise cancelling tech that Sony showcased with the MDR-1000X2. What I found in real-life scenarios is best-in-class NC (noise cancellation) experience where headphones managed to deliver optimal sound even with significant air pressure change. The heavy earcup cushioning combined with Sony's improved NC technology creates a pressure environment within the space.
It effectively stops the outside air that can deteriorate the audio performance. Moreover, if your ears have the tendency to not pop while flight ascends or descends, you will definitely feel the difference with Sony's new headphones strapped on. The atmospheric pressure sensing tech works as said to maintain the best possible audio delivery in varied air pressure situations.
Besides, Sony's sense engine backed ambient sound mode came quite handy while listening to important announcements on airport and while surviving the tiring flight schedule. The headphones have the ability to sense your motion to deliver on audio while keeping you aware about your surroundings.
Improved App support
Next in my list of favorite features are the significant upgrades in Sony's bundled apps that you need to install from Play Store. The new additions include ‘Sound Control Position' that let you change the audio dynamics as per your choice. You can change the direction of sound delivery which is pretty interesting and effective. The Music Center and Headphones Connect app has got some noticeable upgrades such as an immersive equalizer, above mentioned sound control feature, impressive surround modes, etc.
While all these new features worked very well, I have to make an important decision of selecting a stable connection over sound quality. The audio did skip frequently with ‘Priority on sound quality' selected and tracks just couldn't play while they worked absolutely fine in Google's Play music and other third party music players. This happened twice or thrice in my review duration. Nevertheless, the stable connection over priority on sound delivery rectified the issue and also did not impact the overall audio performance at large.
Clear Vocals, Clean Treble and thumping bass
The overall audio experience is excellent. The headphones deliver energetic sound that can be described in words as crystal clear vocals and booming base response. The deep lows, carefully defined frequencies and clean treble delivery in the presence of effective noise canceling makes for an unrivaled ambience that audiophiles will simply love.
You are bound to feel every single beat in the tracks you play that are often missed with a standard pair of wireless headphones or even with wired earphones. I paired the headphones with a variety of devices (aptX HD compatible and non aptX supported) and the overall audio experience was rich and hard-hitting.
Discomfort during long music sessions
My only complaint with Sony's latest wireless headphones is the overall wearing experience during long music sessions. The cushiony closed earcups create an air-sealed environment that makes it tough to continue a movie or stretched play list. It can get really uncomfortable if you are using headphones outside on a sunny day.
Long-lasting Battery Performance
The battery life of WH-1000XM2 is appreciable. I did not keep an exact count of continues hours it played music on a single charge, but the battery did survive for at least three to four days with on and off music sessions throughout a day. And it makes sense as Sony claims that the non-replaceable battery inside the 1000XM2 goes up to 30 hours (wireless) or 40 hours (wired) on a single charge.
The headphones also support quick charge and a 10 minutes charge time can fetch you around 70 minutes' play time. But the overall charge time is a bit troublesome as the battery requires 4 hours to refuel to 100 % from zero. The headphones have the standard microUSB 2.0 port.
Sony has tremendously improved over the predecessor MDR-1000X by adding some significant upgrades. The battery life is improved by 10 hours and you also get Quick charge support. The application support is a big addition and the new sense engine makes things much better in terms of overall audio experience. The new wireless headphones are loaded with audio technology and deliver a long-lasting battery backup.
The Ambient sound mode, Quick attention feature and Atmospheric pressure optimizer working to make noise cancellation even better makes WH-1000MX2 the best possible wireless headphones for frequent travelers. Besides, the Hi-Res audio support, Sony's in-house DSEE HX and S-Master HX technologies that upscale the loss in audio files, etc. all combines together to please audiophiles in every possible way.
Overall, Sony WH-1000XM2 are best suited to avid travelers are true audiophiles that cares a lot for lossless and rich audio experience and are ready to pay a price for it.